Look up to 5 Activist Ryan Colford | Gay Life After 40. com

Activist Ryan Colford

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Name: Ryan Colford

Birth Place: NYC

Occupation: Ryan Colford Photography – Fashion and Art Photographer

Tell us what HIV Smart is all about?

hiv smrt

HIV Smart is a nonprofit organization that I started about 6 months ago. It’s all based on educating as many people as possible about prevention methods such as PrEP & PEP. We also educate people about the various risks of sexual behaviors. HIV Smart also pushes for frequent HIV testing as knowing your status is so very important. If you are positive, you can get treatment and therefore not spread the virus or if you are negative you can make sure of the different ways to protect yourself.

HIV Smart also focuses attention on the fact that the 2/3 of all people who are HIV positive also suffer from depression versus 1/10th the general population. That’s a sobering and staggering statistic.

We make a point of connecting HIV positive people with local information for HIV treatment and mental health resources. We are also actively engaged in connecting those who are HIV negative with connecting to resources so they can get on PrEP if they choose.

At it’s very heart HIV Smart is a social media photo campaign. We encourage everyone to use their pictures across all forms of social media from Facebook to Instagram to Twitter and beyond. We want this imagery to increase visibility, foster real intelligent conversations now that we’ve helped distribute actual facts and to help fight stigma by being so visible. The imagery doesn’t denote anyone’s status but rather that they are educated about HIV and therefore able to make intelligent and well informed choices about any risks they choose to take or not to take.

Words that best describe you?

Hmmm, I’d have to say funny, intelligent, driven, social minded, friendly, caring, optimistic, introspective, and decisive just to start with. It really is a hard question because there’s always the difference between how you see yourself and how you really are and ultimately how you’d like to be.

Who has been your biggest influence in your life? 

Well one of the biggest influences in my life is my Dad. He’s the most unconditionally loving man I could ever hope to emulate. He’s always there for me no matter what and has given me the gift of humor and laughter!

Another influence would be my Mom. She’s taught me how to be strong and independent and how to face reality with a fairness regardless of who or what is involved.

Ok and my final influence is of course a gay icon – Madonna. She always had a fuck you sensibility that’s integral to who I am as person and helped me to live my life as authentically as possible. Not to mention that she’s also an amazing artist not afraid to reinvent herself and that speaks to me as a photographer and various work that I try to accomplish as an artist myself.

When did you become out to friends and family?

I came out pretty young I thought. I was about 18 when I came out. I just couldn’t imagine living that lie of being in the closet all my life.

I would give anything to meet… the man or woman who cures HIV and makes HIV Smart completely unnecessary.

Your idea of a perfect evening is?

A perfect evening is simple really. Surround me with love – friends and my family (blood or otherwise), a few drinks, some dancing, great music, maybe a game of pool, laughing until your cheeks hurt and good conversation with everyone.

OR

quite possibly a one on one night with someone special (still single though). Let me cook something healthy and delicious, a glass of wine, some kissing and cuddling and then falling asleep together with the breeze off the ocean brushing our bodies while we hold each other tighter.

Clearly there’s no one idea of a perfect evening. I could go on I think with a couple others. LOL

The last book I read was …. Oh god! I used to be a voracious reader multiple books a week. As of late with a schedule from Hell that’s been impossible! So I’m going to cheat and tell you the names of two of my favorite books instead.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett

The Stand by Stephen King

My favorite movies/plays are?

I can practically recite say the best lines to “The Princess Bride.” So besides a rom-com I’m a fan of sci-fi and super hero action movies that are actually well written and don’t have obvious plot holes.

My favorite plays (forgive me they aren’t plays but musicals!) are Rent, Cats and Les Miserables. Typical I suppose, but they each have meanings to me based on my life at the time that I saw them. The songs and dancing in each speak to me on different levels.

Nobody knows that I ……now if I answered this question then everybody would know wouldn’t they? I live a very open life for the most part and that would totally defeat the purpose of the very few and limited things that I do keep a secret! 😀

Ryan_BW

What had been your biggest setback or failure in life and how did you overcome it? 

One of my biggest setbacks was not being honest, not being true to who I was, what I felt and what I wanted and how badly I wanted it. I was my own worst enemy. I stood in the way of all that I wanted and in the end ended up with nothing. It was one of the darkest times in my life. In the end though I learned from it. I learned more about being me. I picked myself up and dusted myself off like so many others and decided to not let it break me. You process the pain of failure but you don’t let it consume you. Instead, I’ve taken from that experience and used it to build a better and stronger man than I was then.

If I could meet my younger self, I would tell him…

Your life will be absolutely nothing like you imagine it to be and that’s ok. There are times it will be so much greater and better than you can ever imagine and other times so much less. Ride the wave and love all your ups and downs!

What are the biggest challenges you have as a gay man after 40?  ……

As a gay man after 40 I’ve found that relationships are my biggest challenge. I’m very independent and many men can’t handle that. I can love you with the passion of the sun but I’m also going to be completely true to me at all times. It’s a weird juxtaposition that a lot of guys regardless if they are friends or boyfriends don’t know how to accept.

What would you like to say to the Gay Life after 40 tribe? 

Volunteering_For_SI_Pride_Center

Don’t stop. Don’t ever fucking stop! I don’t care how old you are. Live your life. I mean really truly authentically live your damn life! No matter how old you get it’s just a physical thing and that’s completely immaterial. I refuse to have unlived blood in my veins before I die. Do it all and celebrate life without fear! The only thing to hold you back is yourself. I choose to live life fully and not just pass time. Get up and get out there!

Where can our readers find you or know more about you and HIV Smart?

HIV Smart

We have a website that is constantly being added to – www.hivsmart.org.

As a nonprofit we exist off donations and ALL donations are helpful! So if any of your readers would like to donate that link is http://www.hivsmart.org./give

We also have Instagram @HIVsmart and Twitter @HIVsmartOrg and finally a facebook page too – https://www.facebook.com/HIVSmartOrg/

Ryan Colford Photography

The website is www.ryancolford.com

Instagram: @RyanC_Photo

Twitter: @RyanC_Photo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RyanColfordPhotography/

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